British Columbia

B.C. expands program aimed at preventing overdose deaths in construction industry

The British Columbia government is providing a $1-million grant to expand access to resources aimed at preventing overdose deaths in the construction industry.

'Tailgate Toolkit' program developed on Vancouver Island now expanding provincewide

According to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, men make up almost 80 per cent of all deaths from illicit drugs in B.C., while nearly 20 per cent of those who died and whose professions were recorded worked in trades, transport or as equipment operators. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The British Columbia government is providing a $1-million grant to expand access to resources aimed at preventing overdose deaths in the construction industry.

Sheila Malcolmson, the minister of mental health and addictions, says the program dubbed the Tailgate Toolkit was developed on Vancouver Island last year in partnership with people in the industry who have experience with illicit drug use.

She says it's now set to be expanded across the province, offering training for supervisors, access to peer-led support groups and resources to help raise awareness of treatment options and combat the stigma surrounding drug use.

Rory Kulmala, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association, says harm reduction co-ordinators are also sent to job sites for tailgate talks and they've delivered resources to more than 350 workers since launching last August.

Malcolmson says men make up almost 80 per cent of all deaths from illicit drugs in B.C., while nearly 20 per cent of those who died and whose professions were recorded worked in trades, transport or as equipment operators.

She says the program encourages conversations about drug use and addiction, reducing the stigma that can deter people from asking for help and that drives them to hide their substance use and consume drugs alone.

"In this climate of the terribly increasing toxicity of illicit street drugs, using drugs alone often means dying alone,'' Malcolmson said Thursday.

Scott Bone, the chief executive officer of the Northern Regional Construction Association in Prince George, says the Tailgate Toolkit project is important because it's hard for many people to have a conversation about addiction issues.

"Substance use is usually an issue that many individuals are very uncomfortable to discuss — it's a private matter," Bone told guest host Matt Allen Friday on CBC's Daybreak North.

"The benefit of the program is to really open up the opportunities to provide them — you're [on] a one-on-one or a group peer discussion, along with the resources, to be able to help them understand better how they might move forward.

"We obviously hope that it saves lives."

With files from Daybreak North

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